“Everybody has got the same mission,” said Hillary Mathews, 70, who had come from Hertfordshire, outside London. “All the horrors that’s been going on in the world and in England at the moment are put behind us for a day, and we can just enjoy really celebrating the queen.”

Queen Elizabeth II stepped gingerly onto the Buckingham Palace balcony Thursday, drawing wild cheers from the tens of thousands who came to join her at the start of four days of celebrations of her 70 years on the throne, AP reports.

Her fans sported Union Jack flags, party hats or plastic tiaras. Some had camped overnight in hope of a glimpse of the 96-year-old queen, whose appearances are becoming rare, and a chance to watch the Trooping the Color — a military parade that has marked each sovereign’s official birthday since 1760.

It was an explosion of joy in a massive crowd, one of the first big gatherings since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two year ago.

“Everybody has got the same mission,” said Hillary Mathews, 70, who had come from Hertfordshire, outside London. “All the horrors that’s been going on in the world and in England at the moment are put behind us for a day, and we can just enjoy really celebrating the queen.”

Elizabeth, who became queen at 25, is Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the first to reach the milestone of seven decades on the throne.

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